Pay It Forward


Pay It Forward

Critics Consensus

Pay It Forward has strong performances from Spacey, Hunt, and Osment, but the movie itself is too emotionally manipulative and the ending is bad.



Total Count: 129


Audience Score

User Ratings: 275,120
User image

Watch it now

Pay It Forward Photos

Movie Info

A young boy stumbles upon a simple way to change the world in this drama. Trevor (Haley Joel Osment) is a bright 11-year-old boy who comes from a troubled home; his mother Arlene (Helen Hunt) is an alcoholic trying to hold down two jobs to support her son, while Trevor's father Jon Bon Jovi) left his family behind some time ago. At school, Trevor's class is introduced to their new social studies teacher, Mr. Simonet (Kevin Spacey), a guarded man with severe facial scars. Simonet gives his class an unusual assignment -- think up a practical way to make the world a better place, and put it into action. Trevor comes up with the notion of "Pay It Forward" -- do a needed favor for three different people without being asked, and then ask them to do the same for three others. Trevor starts by letting Jerry (James Caviezal), a junkie living on the streets, stay in his home. Next, he tries to fix Arlene up with Mr. Simonet, since both seem to be lonely and the clean and sober teacher might help Arlene stay away from alcohol. Finally, he tries to rescue one of his schoolmates, who is constantly tormented by bullies. Meanwhile, journalist Chris Chandler (Jay Mohr) finds himself stuck on the road without a car late one night when a man stops and give him the keys to a new car, asking him only to pay the favor forward to someone else; astonished, Chris wants to find out where this philosophy came from. Based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hide, Pay It Forward also stars Angie Dickinson and Liev Schreiber. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Kevin Spacey
as Eugene Simonet
Helen Hunt
as Arlene McKinney
Haley Joel Osment
as Trevor McKinney
Jay Mohr
as Chris Chandler
Gary Werntz
as Thorsen
Rusty Meyers
as Newsstand Guy
View All

Critic Reviews for Pay It Forward

All Critics (129) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (51) | Rotten (78)

Audience Reviews for Pay It Forward

  • Dec 23, 2012
    Great to see a movie that actually promotes doing nice things for others instead of always receiving! Kudos!
    TheOzzBlaster . Super Reviewer
  • Nov 12, 2011
    A film that makes me cry is a good film, but a bit over dramatic
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Jul 15, 2011
    The movie works in some level and failed in the other. Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and the marvelous Haley Joel Osment shines in their respectable character. Other supporting cast help the route of the premise too but for me, the ending killed it. It seems like the director don't have any final climax and decided to go with the cliche formula. But nonetheless, a good movie to watch. Especially if you like interconnected drama movie. 7/10.
    Mesh B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 04, 2011
    " Pay It Forward " Sometimes the world need is a little "Inspiration" to change people's life, to do good to others. The idea was great and the characters were very real, the movie just didn't grab me like I was expecting it to. Saying that I still had teary eyes in some scenes but again it wasn't as emotional as it could have been and I think the last scene in the movie felt like the director was just recklessly throwing one last emotional scrap at us that I don't think was that needed. I can understand why they would want to show the kid standing up to the bullies but him getting stabbed felt a little off target to me.
    Mouhannad S Super Reviewer

Pay It Forward Quotes

News & Features